Last Updated: Thursday, 24 July 2014, 13:56 GMT

U.S. Department of State 2003 Trafficking in Persons Report - Finland

Publisher United States Department of State
Author Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Publication Date 11 June 2003
Cite as United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2003 Trafficking in Persons Report - Finland, 11 June 2003, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4680d7c422.html [accessed 24 July 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Finland (Tier 2)

Finland is a destination and transit country for women and girls trafficked by organized crime syndicates into sexual exploitation, including into enclosed prostitution camps in the northern part of the country. Traffickers bring women in the country on surreptitious marriage contracts and then force them into prostitution. Victims are mainly from Eastern Europe and the Baltic States (Russia, Belarus, Estonia, Latvia, Ukraine and Moldova), but also Southeast Asia (Thailand and the Philippines). Once in Finland, many victims are trafficked throughout the country and on to other Nordic countries and Western Europe.

The Government of Finland does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government dedicated resources to prevention efforts in neighboring source countries; however, law enforcement efforts lacked focus on internal and labor trafficking. Moreover, the government should increase efforts to distinguish trafficking from illegal immigration to ensure implementation of victim protection mechanisms.

Prevention

The Government of Finland did not conduct significant prevention campaigns within Finland, but it focused efforts regionally and internationally. The government participated in the 2002 Nordic Baltic Campaign Against Trafficking in Women, which calls upon governments to dedicate significant resources to combat and monitor trafficking in the region. The government funded prevention activities in other countries, and allocated human resources for some Stability Pact training events. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health compiles information on international commercial prostitution to combat its negative consequences and on June 1-3, 2003, Finland co-hosted with the U.S., Canadian, and Swedish Embassies in Helsinki, a regional conference on best practices in combating trafficking in minors.

Prosecution

Presently, the law does not specifically prohibit trafficking in persons, nor does the penal code reference trafficking in persons. Many related crimes are absent from the Penal Code as well, such as restricting another's freedom of movement; trafficking in persons for transit purposes; restriction of will, choice and movement of prostitutes via debt bondage; and passport confiscation. The government is developing draft legislation that provides a legal definition for trafficking and provides penalties commensurate with other grave crimes. The government instituted strict border controls and benefited from positive law enforcement cooperation between the EU and Nordic countries. Near the end of 2002, the Helsinki Police ended the most notorious organized prostitution ring in the Helsinki area, but made no arrests. High-ranking police officials believe that the absence of anti-trafficking legislation resulted in insufficient police funding for combating trafficking.

Protection

Cooperation between police and victim assistance organizations exists. The anti-trafficking working group of the Police, Border and Immigration authorities consults with social and health care authorities, and one NGO that works with trafficking victims receives funding from national ministries and local sources. Space at most shelters is limited, and some shelters are unwilling to provide short or long-term assistance due to safety concerns. Although there is no formal witness protection program, the defendants that intimidate witnesses during trials are punished and victims are provided legal support and a representative upon request. Authorities are unable to effectively follow information flows and trends pertaining to trafficking as police are not trained on victim identification and they deport foreign prostitutes in almost all cases, trafficked or voluntary. In general, those facing trafficking situations do not report out of fear of deportation or of retribution. In addition, the police report that some women applying for visas at the Finnish consulate in St. Petersburg quietly requested that the visa officer refuse their application, alerting to a potential trafficking situation from that area.

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